What is the Americans with Disabilities Act?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This law is a civil rights act that is designed to ensure equal access to employment, public accommodations, telecommunications and transportation for people with disabilities. To ensure equal access to public transportation, the law requires that all new vehicles purchased for general fixed route public transportation service be made accessible to persons with disabilities, among other requirements.
What is Fixed Route Service?
Fixed route service is public transportation that operates along a set route according to a fixed schedule. This term can include bus and light or rapid rail transportation. It does not include commuter or express bus routes. In this region, Pace and CTA buses and the CTA “L” trains are considered “fixed route” service.
What is Commuter Rail?
Commuter rail is rail passenger service operating in metropolitan and suburban areas which may cross state lines. It primarily operates during morning and evening peak periods. In this region, Metra is considered “commuter rail” service.
What is Metra’s P-8 Program?
Under the Americans with Disabilities act of 1990, commuter rail systems are not required to operate complimentary paratransit systems. Accordingly, Metra does not operate such a system. However, Metra does provide what is called P-8 service (short for paragraph 8 of the Jones II Consent Decree). P-8 is a shuttle service from a qualified origin to the next accessible station. Metra does this at no additional charge to the passenger and does not require certification of disability status. Reservations may be made any time the day before the ride is needed or with as little as three hours notice when necessary. If someone who ordinarily rides from a non-accessible station were to break a leg, for example, he or she could use the service during recuperation without going through a formal certification process. P-8 connections are guaranteed - that is, if you miss the train because the ride is late, and another train is not available right away, the driver will take you to your destination station. In the unusual event the train is late the driver will wait until it arrives. Learn more about rules for P-8.
What is ADA Paratransit Service? Who can use it?
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires public transportation services be available for individuals who, due to the nature of their disabilities, are unable to use accessible trains or buses. This is called ADA Paratransit service, which is shared-ride, origin-to-destination transportation. ADA Paratransit service complements the routes traveled by regularly scheduled public transit services. For more information on ADA Paratransit service or to request an application, call the RTA ADA Paratransit Certification Helpline at 312-663-HELP (4357).
Are there discount programs for seniors or customers with disabilities?
The RTA offers a Reduced Fare permit to persons with disabilities or to people age 65 or older. With a Reduced Fare permit, you can ride CTA or Pace fixed route buses and CTA or Metra rail services for half fare. For example, if the fare is $2.25, you can ride for $ .85. The reduced fare also applies to transfers. Call the RTA Travel Information Center at 312/836-7000 for information on how to apply for an RTA Reduced Fare permit or one of our Ride Free Programs. If you are eligible for ADA Paratransit, the ADA Paratransit ID Card is also a Reduced Fare permit for fixed route. In addition, the RTA offers fixed route Ride Free programs for area residents 65 or older and for low income people with disabilities. There are no discounted fares for ADA Paratransit. The ADA Paratransit fare is at least the cost of the full fare on a fixed route bus or train.
Will my wheelchair fit on public transportation?
Under the U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines, a wheelchair is defined as any “mobility aid belonging to any class of three- or more-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed or modified for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered." Fixed route buses and rail cars will carry any wheelchair and its user as long as the ramp or lift can accommodate the size and combined weight of the wheelchair and its user, and there is space on the bus or rail car.
What if I need to travel with an attendant?
The CTA, Metra and Pace have an Attendant Subsidy Program available only for persons with disabilities who are certified for ADA Paratransit service. The program increases travel choices for persons with disabilities by allowing them and an attendant to pay reduced fares when riding CTA and Paced fixed route bus service, CTA 'L' train service and Metra commuter rail.
Anyone who is certified to use ADA Paratransit service will receive an ADA Paratransit/Reduced Fare ID card. This card is identified by a red ID number starting with the letter "P". This card entitles both the individual who is certified for ADA Paratransit and an attendant to pay reduced fares when riding the CTA and Pace fixed route system or Metra commuter rail. For more information about the Attendant Subsidy program, contact CTA, Metra, or Pace.
If an individual must travel with a personal care attendant on ADA Paratransit service, this can be indicated on the ADA Paratransit application and will be discussed at the in-person interview. If you are certified by the RTA to travel with a personal care attendant on ADA Paratransit, the attendant would travel at no charge on ADA Paratransit service.
How does conditional eligibility work when scheduling ADA Paratransit service?
If you are eligible for ADA Paratransit on a conditional basis, each requested trip must go through a trip screening process as determined by Pace. As for all trip reservations, you must call the service provider the day before a trip with detailed trip information (i.e., pick-up and drop-off times and addresses). Depending upon the type of conditional eligibility, the service provider will either approve or deny the trip at the time of request or contact Pace ADA Paratransit staff with the trip information for further follow-up. It is important to note that as long as the conditions remain the same for a particular trip, Pace will not need to repeat the trip screening process to determine eligibility once that trip is screened the first time. However, trip reservations must still be made the day before you plan to travel.
For general ADA Paratransit trip scheduling information, you can refer to the Pace ADA Paratransit materials that are included with the RTA Certification Letter packet. Information regarding ADA Paratransit trip scheduling can also be obtained by calling Pace Customer Relations at 847/364-PACE (7223 voice) or 847/364-5093 (TTY).